Reading List: May 2016

The Reading List is a feature of Poetry magazine's Editors' Blog. This month contributors to the May 2016 issue share some books that held their interest.

I have just received my copy of Peter O'Leary's new book The Sampo. O'Leary's poetry transports me to a place where the act of reading is like rocket fuel for the brain, heart, and soul. This is a complex imaginative world built with brilliantly crafted lines loaded with mysterious ideas. I've been reading O'Leary's previous volume Phosphorescence of Thought for three years now and each time it's more rewarding. O'Leary is a visionary from a line of poets I couldn't do without: Robert Duncan, Michael Palmer (Notes for Echo Lake), Robert Creeley (Life and Death), Denise Levertov, and Charles Olson. I discovered most of these poets and their fellow contributors in Donald Allen's The New American Poetry during the 1960s—the wake of this anthology steered me towards the poetry of several poets who were too young at the time for its pages: Nathaniel Mackey (Blue Fasa), Jennifer Moxley (The Open Secret), and Devin Johnston (Far-Fetched). Another poet I have been reading in depth is C.D. Wright—her book The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All is astonishingly good, rich in its mix of language, imagination, and hard lives in reality. Another volume I return to often is Letters, Poems 1953-1956 by Robert Duncan (in the beautiful edition with Duncan's drawings by Flood Editions), it's a turning point in Duncan's writing—between styles, like the period in Kandinsky's paintings where he crosses from expressionism into abstraction and meanings vibrate.

Read the full reading list on the Poetry Foundation website.